ICE Redefines Detainment For Wikileaks Helper: You're Not Being Detained, You Just Can't Leave

from the our-government-at-work dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about computer security expert, Tor developer and Wikileaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum, who was regularly being detained and intimidated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials each time he (a US citizen) traveled into the country. If you follow Jacob's Twitter feed, you get detailed descriptions each time he flies back into the country of the hassles he has to go through. Every time he's detained and never once given an explanation for why or what is being searched for. He's often lied to and frequently told that it's a "random" search. He certainly knows enough that he wipes all of his electronic equipment before traveling across the border.

In the latest case, upon returning from a conference in Europe by flying into Houston, Appelbaum again asked his detainers why he was being detained, and was once again not given a straight answer. He knows that there's something on the screen that they pull up on their computers, but they refuse to provide him with any info. This time, they even went so far as to redefine detainment, telling him that he wasn't being detained, but that he just couldn't go until they were done with him. Perhaps he should send Homeland Security a copy of a dictionary with the definition of "detained" highlighted.

Of course, this is also the same Jacob Appelbaum whom the US government has been secretly requesting information on from various online service providers, as the US government seeks to make its case against Wikileaks. Is it really so difficult for the US government to be upfront with Appelbaum about why he's being detained? Is it really a matter of national security that they can't say "hey, look, the Justice Department is frantically trying to find something -- anything -- that can be used in a case against Wikileaks, and we're coming up blank, so we're going to search your computer equipment based on nothing, just in case you might have something in there that we can use to prosecute Julian Assange."

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  1. icon
    Chargone (profile), 12 Apr 2011 @ 8:33pm

    Re: Re: Other DHS helpful redefinitions

    we totally need a button for that. it happens too often.

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